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Faculty Senate proposes statement in support of OU Iranian community amid ongoing protests, violence in Iran

Bizzell Memorial Library

Bizzell Memorial Library on Nov. 1.

The OU Faculty Senate passed a resolution issuing a statement in support of OU’s Iranian students amid global protests and discussed another resolution regarding a statement supporting free speech at OU.

Roksana Alavi, OU diversity, equity and inclusion chair, presented a resolution standing in solidarity with Iranian American faculty, staff and students at OU following nearly a month and a half of ongoing protests in Iran. These protests are in response to the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman allegedly beaten to death on Sept. 16 by Iranian “morality police” for wearing her hijab improperly. 

The resolution reads that Iranians have suffered historical trauma caused by the Islamic Revolution including a recent event at Sharif University in Tehran, Iran, where students were barricaded inside the university, according to the meeting agenda.

“The University of Oklahoma Iranian American students, faculty, and staff, as well as the international students from Iran, have been watching the news, with both pride, and grave concerns about the well-being of their friends, families, and fellow Iranians in Iran, while organizing local events in the diaspora,” the statement reads. “The OU-Norman Faculty Senate stands in solidarity with our Iranian / Iranian American faculty, staff, and students.”

The senate also discussed a free speech resolution, which comes a month after OU President Joseph Harroz Jr.’s statement during Free Speech Week regarding the importance of free speech to the OU community. Harroz called free speech “the cornerstone of our academic enterprise” in his email to the OU community. 

The proposed statement said the OU Faculty Senate believes that protecting freedom of speech is a key element to life on campus.

“The vigorous defense of these essential rights is all the more important in today’s world, in which disinformation and censorship are being used to undermine democracy and to sow division,” the statement reads. 

The statement also details support for the Chicago Statement, principles of free speech drafted by the Committee on Freedom of Expression at the University of Chicago. Sen. Scott Lamothe, OU political science associate professor, talked about concerns that such a resolution might protect disinformation and that the Chicago Statement contained certain “outdated” ideas of free speech. 

“It’s important to distinguish between norms and laws. This is not legislation here. It does support a principle that is vitally important,” Sen. Thomas Burns, OU sociology professor, said in response to Lamothe’s concerns. 

Dorothy Anderson, OU vice president and chief human resources officer, answered HR-related questions from senators. Anderson addressed issues with acquiring staff which was attributed to lengthy hiring processes and transparency issues in the HR structure. 

news reporter

Caleb Wortz is a journalism senior and a news reporter at the Daily. He started at the Daily in the spring of 2022. He is originally from Sapulpa, Oklahoma.

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